We are living in a very cold and dark time.
Yes, it is cold outside and, yes, the darkness at this time of year is significant.
And yet, we all know that COVID-19 – the loss of friends and loved ones, the loss of income and employment, the reality of illness and hunger with millions on food lines – makes a dark world darker.
Add to these the intense psychological and emotional stresses that so many are experiencing, young and old.
A legend that says that a good person is a lamplighter, and that if one cannot find a lamp to light, one should search for one.
What if one cannot find any lights to be kindled? A wise rabbi answered that one should strive to be a better person by seeing the bright spot in everyone.
We all must become lamplighters for others. We can choose to live by searching for the good in others.
For example, when we focus on our children’s strengths, we help build their self-esteem and kindle the light of their souls.
Each of us, every day, can become a light for someone who needs our help. And if we do, we make their world and the whole world as God intended it – a better, happier, kinder place.
The best thing that we can do during this extraordinarily dark time is to find the light in ourselves and to find it and nurture it in others.
By finding light in others, by pointing it out, we can help each other to accomplish things on a greater scale than we ever could alone.
But that is not all!
Yesterday evening’s sky – the night of the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn – was telling us not only to become a lamplighter, but also to become a lamplighter with others.
In recent weeks, the planets have seemed closer and closer together in the sky, and on Dec. 21 they were so close that, to the naked eye, they appeared as one planet.
It has been hundreds of years since this has occurred in such a dramatic way at night.
In Hebrew, Jupiter is called Tzedek, which means “justice,” while Saturn is called Shabbatai or Shabbat, meaning “Sabbath.”
When Jews greet each other on the Sabbath, we say “Shabbat Shalom!” (a “Sabbath of Peace”).
Metaphorically, what would a conjunction of tzedek (justice) and Shabbat (Sabbath) look like?
Well, the sky seems to be telling us that if we could join together the two “lights,” one of “justice” and one of the “Sabbath,” a world of peace would ensue.
Last night, the sky was urging us to join our lights, especially during this dark time, to make something better – something with more justice and peace.
In Judaism and Christianity, the great conjunction has messianic implications.
Christians are referring to it as the “Christmas Star” of 2020.
For Jews, the great conjunction has inspired us that positive change was going to come, and that the world could be a better place if we could only merge justice with peace.
There is even a blessing for seeing the great conjunction in Jewish tradition. The blessing states, “Blessed is the Lord Our God, the Author of creation.”
Let us work together with others to become lamplighters. Let us make our own “great conjunction.”
Let us make sure that like the example of the great conjunction, we seek to become lamplighters and to join our lights with others.
In so doing, we will bring the world a little closer toward being a world of justice and peace.